Having a DUI or DWI conviction will likely result in penalties from your state and a rate increase for your car insurance. That's because car insurance companies will see you as a risky driver who is more likely to cause accidents and make claims.
But all hope is not lost. There are car insurance companies that specialize in high-risk drivers. And no matter what's on your driving record you can shop around for car insurance rates to see who has a good price for you.
If you get a DUI, here's how things will probably go down:
- Penalties: You'll be subject to the drunk driving penalties in your state. These can include suspension of your driver's license, vehicle impoundment, fines, jail time, community service or a requirement to attend alcohol-abuse treatment. The Governors Highway Safety Association has DUI laws by state.
- DMV surcharge: Some states make you pay a surcharge to keep your driver's license if you've racked up enough points for traffic violations. For example, in New Jersey and Texas there's a $1,000 surcharge for a first-time DUI conviction (with surcharges for additional years in Texas).
- Interlock device: When you get your license back, your state may require you to use an ignition interlock device. This is a breathalyzer you must blow into in order to start the vehicle.
- SR-22: Your state may require you to get an SR-22 from your insurer, which is a form that proves you have car insurance. Not all car insurance companies offer SR-22s.
- Dropped by insurer or rate increase: Your car insurance company might drop you at renewal time. That means you'll have to shop for new car insurance. If they don't drop you, expect to see a rate increase.
Insurance options after a DUI
Your insurance options after a DUI will depend on your insurer and whether you have other violations on your driving record. In general, you can get insurance after a DUI from:
- Your current auto insurer, if it doesn't drop you.
- A "non-standard" insurance company. These companies specialize in auto insurance for high-risk drivers. These are drivers who may have a hard time finding insurance because of accidents, DUIs and other moving violations, or other issues. Non-standard auto insurers include Dairyland Insurance, Direct General, Geico Casualty, Infinity Insurance and The General.
- Your state's "assigned-risk pool." These are the insurers of last resort. If you're denied car insurance due to your driving record, you can buy auto insurance from the assigned-risk pool. Generally any auto insurance agent can help you with an application for the pool. Your state will then assign an insurer to take you.
How much does insurance cost after a DUI?
Rate increases for car insurance after a DUI will depend on where you live and your insurer. We looked at rates for drivers with a clean record vs. drivers with a DUI and found a wide variation. Nationwide the average insurance increase after a DUI was 32%.
The length of time insurers can use a DUI as a factor in rates also varies by state. Your insurance agent can tell you how long a DUI will affect your car insurance rates.